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Oklahoma Hall of Fame Publishing

Throwaway Kids: Reforming Oklahoma's Juvenile Justice System

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In 1978, Steven A. Novick, an Oklahoma City Legal Aid lawyer, filed a federal court lawsuit against Lloyd Rader, the head of Oklahoma's welfare agency and the most powerful man in the state.  The class action lawsuit alleged horrific and unspeakable treatment of juveniles at six state institutions.  The treatment, from coerced sex acts and rape to locking children in solitary confinement in cells with only a blanket and no toilet, bed or water, shocked Oklahomans, especially its leaders who had ignored rumors of inhumane treatment of children for years.

Oklahoma received terrible nationwide publicity when the allegations were proved.  ABC's 20/20 called its investigative report "Throwaway Kids" and a Gannett News Service probe labeled its special reports "Oklahoma Shame."

This is the story about the Terry D. lawsuit, named for one of the eight minor plaintiffs whose case resulted in the closure of Oklahoma juvenile institutions and brought new procedures for handling deprived and delinquent children in the state.

The lawsuit lasted 20 years and perhaps is the most significant case of its kind in the nation.  Juvenile justice experts frequently refer to the national and long-term impact of Terry D.

PUBLISHER: Oklahoma Hall of Fame Publishing

AUTHORS:  Terry Smith and Bob Burke

FOREWORD BY:  Frank Keating

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